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Ken Holtzman, former Cubs, A's, Yankees and Orioles pitcher, dies at 78

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CHICAGO (CBS) -- Former Cubs pitcher Ken Holtzman, who threw two no-hitters with the Cubs and was the last pitcher to toss a no-hitter without a strikeout in 1969, died Sunday.

Holtzman was 78. He had been battling cardiac issues and was hospitalized three weeks before he died, his brother, Bob, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The left-hander was a pitcher with the Cubs from 1965 until 1979 and again in 1978 and 1979. He posted a 3.76 ERA in 237 games with the Cubs – including two no-hitters, the Cubs said on X, formerly Twitter.

Holtzman was the last pitcher to toss a no-hitter without a strikeout in 1969, and he threw a second no-hitter with the Cubs in 1971.

Portrait of Ken Holtzman
Ken Holtzman. Bettmann / Getty Images

The Illini alum also won four World Series rings in between his stints with the Cubs – including three straight wins with the Oakland Athletics.

A native of St. Louis, Holtzman originally signed with the Cubs out of the University of Illinois after they drafted him in the fourth round of the inaugural MLB draft in 1965. With the Cubs, Holtzman also crafted a streak of 33 consecutive scoreless innings in 1969. In 1970, Holtzman topped the 200-strikeout threshold for the first and only time in his career.

Following the 1971 season, the Cubs traded him to the A's in exchange for outfielder Rick Monday. On Oakland's watch, Holtzman made two All-Star teams, authored a 20-win season in 1973, and served as a rotation stalwart for an A's team that won three straight World Series titles from 1972 through 1974. In four postseasons for Oakland, Holtzman registered an ERA of 2.30 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance. In 1973 World Series, Holtzman started Games 1, 4, and 7 against the New York Mets

In 1976, A's owner Charlie Finley traded Holtzman and slugger Reggie Jackson to the Orioles in a six-player blockbuster. Holtzman would later pitch for the Yankees and then return to the Cubs for the final two seasons of his career. With the Yankees in 1977, Holtzman picked up a fourth World Series ring, although he did not pitch in that postseason. 

Across parts of 15 big-league seasons, Holtzman went 174-1500 with an ERA of 3.49 and 1,601 strikeouts in 2,867 1/3 innings. On nine different occasions, he topped 200 innings in a season. Holtzman's 174 wins remain a record for a Jewish pitcher, just ahead of Sandy Koufax's 165. In 2007, Holtzman became a manager for the first season of the Israel Baseball League

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